2012 NFL Mock Draft: Predicting Andrew Luck #1 & the Rest of the Top 10
Now that the 2011 NFL Draft is over, it's time to take a look at how the 2012 draft might shape up, more specifically; the top 10. It's a no brainer that Andrew Luck would have gone No. 1 in this year's draft had he came out, but instead that honor went to Cam Newton.
The thing about Luck is that he won't have the Jake Locker tag thrown on him. He's a pure quarterback who will for sure be the top pick in next year's draft. I imagine the usual teams will be towards the top: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Arizona, Cleveland, etc. You know who they are.
Besides Luck, there will be another crop of very talented young men who will look to garner top 10 honors.
10. Brandon Jenkins: Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Florida State
Brandon Jenkins had a monster sophomore season that resulted in 14 sacks, 19.5 tackles for loss and 67 tackles. He is 6'3" 240 pounds with a motor that doesn't stop. Now, he won't transition into being an end in the NFL unless he puts on some bulk, but he's perfect for a 3-4 outside linebacker position.
Jenkins reminds me of Von Miller, key word is "reminds." He's not as fast or as strong, but we've only seen one breakout year by him.
With a revamped defense much to his credit, Jenkins numbers can be expected to increase along with his production which would make him an easy pick for any team in the top 10.
9. Jared Crick: Defensive Tackle, Nebraska
OK so this might come as a surprise, but do you remember the last Nebraska defensive tackle who stayed for his senior season? That same guy just won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, while being arguably the best defensive tackle in the league.
Jared Crick certainly isn't as good as Mr. Suh, but he has all of the same intangibles. He's big at 6'6" 285 lbs. He's long and strong and has a mean streak to go along with it.
In each of the past two seasons, he has had 70 tackles and 9-plus sacks in each year. He's a monster in the middle and he proved he could be great without Suh last season.
Crick will have another great year and will open more eyes doing it against the huge offensive linemen in the Big Ten. He deserves to be a top 10 pick.
8. Matt Barkley: Quarterback, USC
Matt Barkley is entering his third year in college football and he's started every year. He's a gamer, plain and simple, and while he won't get a chance to play in the National Championship, or a BCS bowl for that matter, he will still be in the national spotlight.
While he struggled during his true freshman season, he improved a lot during his sophomore season. He completed 62 percent of his passes, which will only get better this year.
He threw 26 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions and had he played against Notre Dame, he would have had over 3,000 yards passing.
He's not the tallest guy in the world at 6'2" but he does have NFL size matched with an NFL arm.
It's no surprise, he belongs in the top 10.
7. Cliff Harris: Cornerback, Oregon
Cliff Harris will be next year's Patrick Peterson, although he won't be bringing in as much hype. The Oregon corner had a breakout year in 2010 with six interceptions, including one that went to the house against Tennessee for 76 yards.
He has ideal cover corner size at 5'11" 180 lbs, but will need to bulk up. Harris played great in the National Championship game, even though he did not have a single tackle, he did have an interception, but it was his coverage that was most impressive.
Oregon's stout defense will only give room for more plays to be made by Harris and the Oregon secondary and Harris will go on to be a top 10 pick.
6. Trent Richardson: Running Back, Alabama
For those that compare Trent Richardson to former teammate and newest Saint Mark Ingram, they fail to give Richardson the credit he deserves.
He's faster than Ingram, stronger, more elusive and gives teams a home run threat instead of an "inside the tackles" type of running back.
Richardson will have the backfield to himself this year and he should have a monster season barring injury. Last season as Ingram's backup, he had 700 yards rushing with a 6.3 yards per carry average.
Richardson is also a workout warrior which will only go further for him with NFL scouts.
Richardson is a lock for a top 10 pick.
5. Jonathan Martin: Tackle, Stanford
This is the guy that protects Andrew Luck's blindside. Jonathan Martin will be under the microscope all season long and to his credit, he will still be impressing every scout that will be at all of Stanford's games.
He's got great size at 6'6" 310 pounds and great feat to go along with it, but the system is also going to help him a lot. Being in a pass first, run second system shows he can defend against pass rushers, but he can also run block.
If Martin can keep Luck safe, which there is really no doubt about it, he will be a top 10 pick in the 2012 draft.
4. Dont'a Hightower: Linebacker, Alabama
Two words. Rolando McClain. Dont'a Hightower has everything McClain had and then some. He's bigger at 6'4" 260, and faster. Hightower was having an amazing season in 2009, before a torn ACL derailed his year.
Last season, he compiled 70 tackles, which is a lot in Alabama's fierce defense. Hightower has the ideal size to play middle linebacker in the NFL, but he's versatile enough to play any linebacker position.
Hightower will get compared to McClain a lot this year, but is that a bad thing? McClain had a great rookie season and was a top 10 pick, don't expect any less for Hightower.
3. Matt Kalil: Tackle, USC
Matt Kalil is the younger brother of Carolina offensive lineman and former Trojan, Ryan Kalil, but he's much bigger. Matt stands 6'7" and weighs 300 pounds, a perfect fit for a left tackle in the NFL.
Add in the fact that his former teammate Tyron Smith was picked ninth in this year's draft, wouldn't it make Kalil look better because he was left tackle and Smith was on the right?
Either way, his size and athleticism is too good to go unnoticed and he will be protecting Matt Barkley's blindside, something he does very well.
2. Quinton Coples: Defensive End, North Carolina
Honestly, if Andrew Luck wasn't in this draft, Coples would be the No. 1 pick. He's huge at 6'6" 275 lbs and has the athleticism of Julius Peppers.
Coples had 59 tackles last year and 10 sacks. Imagine what he would have done if Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn were eligible.
He has great speed, great technique, great size, well he just has great everything and he's a dream end for any NFL head coach.
Coples won't fall further than No. 5 in next year's draft, he's simply too good.
1. Andrew Luck: Quarterback, Stanford
It has to be Luck, after all that's what the title implies. Luck will go No. 1 next year, as he would have this year, but he will be bringing in some extra accolades with him. Possibly the Heisman, possibly a National Championship. Who knows?
Nothing is going to prevent this guy from going No. 1 in next year's draft. He's a pure pocket passer with mobility and his character is off the charts.
It's hard to imagine him slipping out of the top spot, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see teams lining up to trade for that spot.